Photography is as much an art as it is a science, and when it comes to producing a finished image it is as much down to the processing tools as it is to the process of how I actually shoot the chosen shot. Once the shutter has clicked there is still half the job to be done, mainly post-processing the image to its desired finish. Over the last four years I have evolved my post processing (PP) techniques, and I’m always looking for ways to get the best out of the software I use in order to make my images sing. The tech that I have teched to my tech (to paraprhase an old Star Trek script term) has really brought my images to life, and in this article I want to layout the basic process and rationale behind the PP tech that I use in my workflow.
Personally I use Adobe’s Lightroom (LR) and Photoshop (PS) to process my images, along with Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro (CEP) filter package for PS. These three pieces of software have enabled me to get the results I want from my images in a streamlined and effective manner, and if you have the money I would recommend them as enable me to complete a set of images in a very time effective way. I am a firm believer of tech that aids my flow, rather than tech that gets in the way of me achieving my goals.
I nearly always loading the images into LR to begin with, then passing them through to PS once I have selected and done basic edits in LR. LR is a great tool for quickly sorting through the images you have taken, selecting the ones you want to process, and then doing colour, light balance, and other basic editing to the selected images. If you don’t want to edit the images beyond the basic processing (LR does include basic blemish and red eye removal as standard), then you can simply save the images in LR into what ever format you choose to use.
If you then wish to do further editing/processing in PS LR has the ability to export your file from one to the other at the click of a mouse, without having to mess around with saving files and re-opening in the other. PS is one of those tools that is overwhelming to learn, indeed my advice has always been to only learn what you need to know, and leave the rest until you need to know it. If you try to overload yourself with settings, presets, and tools beyond your needs you may end up floundering and not being time effective when processing your images. This is the reason I love CEP, as it enables me to have a set of filters at my fingertips which save me hours of work. Almost all of my images will be passed through CEP, from very minor tweaks to contrast and warmth to major saturation and contrast overhauls.
I have a certain look that I have created over the years with the aid of CEP that works with the sort of images I enjoy taking, and I have found the tech I use has morphed my personal style as much as I have developed behind the lens. I am sure as the next round of technology develops I will invariably evolve my style in new directions, but I am pretty sure that LR, PS, and CEP will all feature in there to a greater or lesser degree. If you have time I thoroughly recommend you try out the trial versions of all three if you haven’t already, as you may just find their tech to be beneficial and useful to your workflow as it has been to mine.